Written by Jennifer Mayberry
Graphic Design by Krystn Stockbridge
As job seekers today, we are forced to market ourselves in a world oversaturated with words on screens. In this endless barrage of information, standing out can be hard. What should your personal brand say when there are already so many words on the screen? As technology continues to envelop our lives and overwhelm us with a constant flow of information, simplified modes of communication come into view.
We are all overloaded. Pictures allow our strained eyes to understand ideas in seconds. Communicating our personal brands not only with words but also through a visual identity can ease the processing load for those who view our profiles.
Visual elements are a great way for you tell the story of your brand. You can use them to quickly show people a bit about what you’re like, what matters to you, and what you have to offer. Your visual identity is the visual side of your personal brand. It gives people images to remember you by.
Take the singer-songwriter, Stevie Nicks, for instance. The 2019 Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee has been enchanting audiences worldwide for decades. Thanks to her involvement with the hit show, American Horror Story, she has connected with a whole new generation of fans. Beyond her talent and cross-generational appeal, Stevie Nicks has a highly recognizable and symbolic visual identity.
Most of our lives will not be like Stevie Nick’s. However, among other things, she has much to teach us about visual identity and personal branding. Why? Because she is authentic, consistent, and she offers a cathartic value to her countless fans. Her visual identity is instantly recognizable as hers and hers alone.
What can Stevie Nicks Teach us About Visual Identity?
Look around at a Stevie Nicks concert, and you will see an audience filled with fans dressed like her. The look-alikes are like decoys as you try to spot the legendary singer leaving the stage door. In case you haven’t been emulating her since you were in high school, Bustle has published this guide to Stevie’s personal style.
When Stevie Nicks achieved fame with Fleetwood Mac in the 1970s, she also became known for her platform boots, chiffon layers, and twirly shawls. The look became a lasting visual identity for the singer. Her style could be described as unapologetically feminine, boho, romantic, dramatic and a little witchy. Though it’s only a small part of her presence as an artist, her visual identity is instantly recognizable and an extension of a mystical, intense, and sensitive persona that flows from within.
Symbols Tied to Stories
Stevie’s performance visuals reach down into the thematic roots of some of her most famous songs. Black chiffon (and maybe a top hat) for the enchantress “Rhiannon.” A red shawl to wrap around her for the tragic ballad, “Sara.” A gold fringed one to shake with the fearsome and primal power of “Gold Dust Woman.” These costume pieces are not just the ego trappings of a beautiful star, they are props of the well-known narratives that come alive when she comes onstage to re-enact them once again.
The above mentioned are but a few of the recurring symbols that Nicks uses, along with the stories of her songs, and distinctive voice, to communicate with her audience. Along with her platform boots and gauzy layers, the symbols of her songs have endured for decades. They remind us that there is only one Stevie Nicks. These visual effects are only an extension of her presence as an artist but they have helped to make her recognizable, memorable, and identifiable.
As Stevie told Sylvie Simmons in a Revolution article, Through A Looking Glass Darkly,
“All the characters in my songs…they’re all me. But they’re all different sides of me.” – Stevie Nicks
Successful Visual Identity
Stevie Nicks has stuck to her personal style all of these years and made it part of her communication with her audience. Interestingly, the wisdom of her choices is echoed by visual identity experts. As Ducttapemarketing.com writes, to create a successful visual identity you must, “Be unique, memorable, and make everything match.”
The description fits Stevie Nicks. After all, people can easily identify her brand with her visual choices, and she follows her own sense of fashion. She doesn’t dress like everyone else, and people can easily identify her style. Though her looks are varied, they fit within the style she established early in her career.
As Ducttape Marketing further explains, “Brands who are consistent with their visual identity resonate more effectively with their audience than those who are not.” Nicks kept on wearing platform boots even after they went out of style. Now they are eternally a part of her visual identity.
So how Should you Create your own Visual Identity?
To build your personal brand’s visual identity, idesigni.co.uk recommends that you, “Create a diagram of the qualities you want your brand identity to communicate.” It’s important to figure out what you want your brand to represent before making visual choices. As businessnewsdaily.com warns, “Don’t put the visuals in front of the brand.”
Visuals can make your brand memorable and help you connect with your audience. However, they must be a reflection of who you are and what you offer, or the magic won’t last.
Let Your Industry Guide You
Dress for your field in your profile picture on LinkedIn, on your personal website, and other platforms where you promote your career. What do your pictures say about you? How can you use them to make your personal brand memorable?
If you are a professional surfer, perhaps you will want to post pictures of you surfing. Or an awe-inspiring beach scene for your cover photo. A pet sitter should probably feature pictures of animals on their website. It doesn’t have to be all literal. For instance, a memoir writer might intrigue their audience with an old photograph that makes them wonder what’s happened since.
For any profession, your profile pictures should look like you. If someone says, “It’s a really pretty picture, but it doesn’t look like you,” then you should probably (grudgingly) change it. You want people to remember you as you actually are. Be appropriate for your industry, but try to bring your personality into your images too.
Give us an Image
Use the visual options that LinkedIn, your personal website, and other platforms give you. Why leave the generic platform image for your cover photo, when you can choose one that reveals something about you? You can also use your various social media accounts to display links to your personal website, a professional portfolio or other sites that showcase your work.
Make it Easy on the Eyes
Consider user experience. Look at websites that are visually appealing and easy to read. Look at ones that aren’t and ask yourself why. Make sure an intense background color or a crazy pattern isn’t making your text hard to read or focus on.
Experiment with Whitespace!
Pay attention to how you arrange your information. You could have the best content in the world but if it’s all crammed together, people won’t be able to process it. Especially on a screen. Software developer, Nick Babich, advocates using white space to ensure that your content is easy to see and to read.
It’s not just that we’ve become impatient toddlers who must be spoon-fed only small bits of information. It’s that the brain processes words differently on a backlit screen than a piece of paper. Especially small fonts on a little smartphone screen. That’s why top blogger Neil Patel uses plenty of white space in his blog.
Have Some Visual Fun
Of course, always ground your presentation in real assets and genuine qualities, but it’s okay to have fun. It’s an exciting time to build a beautiful visual identity for your personal brand. Look around. With all of these tools at our disposal, we’re in a new place. It’s like the scene in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy steps from black and white into color.
One place to look for fun tools and materials is CreativeMarket.com. The site features a plethora of backgrounds, textures and other images to help you with personal branding and visual identity. There is much beauty on this website. Use it to dress up your blog or social media platform. Canva.com is another great site that you can use to create visuals for social media accounts. Canva even has some how-to instructional materials to help you.
Don’t be afraid to explore! Just like the men’s department gets all the best blues and purples, the visual professions have most leeway in artifying their profile pictures, etc. But the rest of us can have fun too! After all, online platforms and personal websites need images, and there are cover photos to pick.
Consider Visual Resumes
Visual resumes will not be right in every situation, but they sure do look cool. Look at these on Picktochart.com. They could work very well as supplemental material for some job seekers and may be especially helpful for certain professions, such as graphic designers.
When addressing the question of whether or not to use visual resumes, the undercoverrecruiter.com says, “It depends.” They warn against sending them to HR professionals or recruiters. Especially when they use applicant tracking systems, which can’t process visual resumes. Instead, the Undercover Recruiter suggests sharing them on social media, especially for professions such as marketing. Here are some striking examples of Visual Resumes found on Canva.
Today, job seekers have several tools at their disposal, that they can use to maximize the visual effect of their personal brands. Why not have fun with it! Figure out what story you want your brand to tell, and consider the incomparable performer, Stevie Nicks, as an inspirational example of visual identity and branding. For more about personal branding, click here.